Project Management for Indie Authors…

Project Management

Wish You Were Here is off being made ready for publication. This time I’ll be having the file converted not only to kindle and ibooks formats (epub and mobi files), I’m also having it converted to paperback file as well. Anyways, this is the last step before I press publish. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. I’m second guessing pretty well every decision I’ve made. Whatever…

Now, I’ve done a few project plans in my life- I know a thing or two about them. I also know that the key to any good project plan is the following:

  • Work backwards. Yep. You heard me. Backwards. From your due/ live date.
  • Identify any dependencies and milestones on your critical path.
  • Ask the “what if” and “what has to happen before” questions.
  • Clarify (you’ll see this word used a lot below) and triple check everything- there is no such thing as assumption

These tasks are to get your ebook out there to your waiting public. If you’re also doing print on demand (which I will be as well this time), you’ll have additional tasks that will include such things as barcodes. It will also impact your cover design…don’t worry, I’ll post on this when I work it out for myself! Don’t forget, you’ll also have marketing and social media activities as well…we’ll talk about that another time.

  1. What day do you want to go live? Set your date. I’m an astrologer, so naturally, I’ve cast a chart for this. More importantly, my book finishes in Queenstown, and as I’ll be there in a few weeks, that was always going to be my end point. Hubby and me at my launch party in a bar in Queenstown.
  2. If you’re doing a pre-sale on Amazon you’ll need to have your final file in 10 days before the live date.
  3. Before you list on Amazon, you’ll need your:
  • Catalogue in Publication number (CIP)- allow 10 days
  • ISBN numbers for each format (available on the spot, but required for your CIP)
  • US Tax Nos…or the equivalent. Allow 8 weeks.
  • Your Synopsis/ description
  • Your cover
  • A file in the correct format
  1. File conversion. If you’re outsourcing this, allow ten working days, but clarify with your provider. For this you’ll need your:
  • CIP numbers
  • ISBN numbers
  • A Bio
  • A dedication
  • A cover
  • An acknowledgement
  1. Proof-reading. If you’re outsourcing this, clarify with your provider. If not, allow sufficient time to pass through at least twice. I’d suggest allocating at least 2 weeks to this task- more if, like me, your talent is not in your attention to detail.
  2. Copy edit. Allow 4 weeks for your editor, and another 2-3 weeks for you to accept or reject any changes.
  3. Structural edit. Allow your editor 4-5 weeks (but clarify). Then schedule yourself (depending on your other workload) at least 4-6 weeks to absorb the feedback and make the required changes. If you need a second pass, this time could double or triple.
  4. If you’re outsourcing your cover, allow:
  • 2-4 weeks to go back and forward with your designer
  • 2-4 weeks to agree a design.

These are your major food groups, and will form your critical path.

If you’re doing promotions such as a blog tour, or getting advance reviews, you’ll need to allow time for your book to go out for these. You’ll also need to add tasks for these.

In the absence of project management tools, I just knocked up a quick excel spreadsheet. It started life as a set of post it stickers along the wall- my very favourite way of planning projects.

Other hints?

  • Set your own deadlines and stick to them. These will be the dates on your critical path. If you were publishing with a traditional publisher you’d have deadlines- just because you’re doing it yourself is no reason to let your standards and schedule slip.
  • Don’t forget to add in time for obtaining quotes, agreeing quotes, researching suppliers (eg designers, editors etc), and, well, life to get in the way.
  • Mark your dependencies in a different colour or highlighter. Eg, ISBNs are a dependency for your conversion, your CIP request, and your Amazon listing.
  • Clarify due dates with your suppliers e.g. editor, designer, etc and those helping with your marketing
  • Project managers always have contingency up their sleeve…just don’t tell anyone (even yourself) about it…

Good luck!